Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

Germanic Languages and Literature

First Advisor

Catriona MacLeod


This dissertation reinterprets the German Romantics' project of writing a new mythology by arguing that the project's theoretical and poetic contours, as they emerge around 1800, owe to the Romantic engagement with Dante and his Commedia. Positioning the neue Mythologie vis-à -vis mythographical discourses of the Enlightenment, I begin by showing how A.W. Schlegel's scholarship on Dante in the early to mid 1790s endorses the Commedia as the preeminent symbolic work of Romantic poetry, which in turn grounds Friedrich Schlegel's theorization of the Commedia as a work of universal symbolic value in the mid to late 1790s. Friedrich Schlegel's activity culminates in the Rede über die Mythologie, in which he, having defined the new mythology as a symbolic instantiation of absolute idealism, asserts that any new mythology would necessarily assume the form of the Commedia. In subsequent chapters on Novalis, Schelling, and Goethe, I show how these figures take up the challenges of the Schlegel brothers' literary historiography by adopting both poetic strategies as well as specific scenes from the Commedia in order to render the tenets of absolute idealism in a system of Dantean myth.